January Recap

Every month I complete of my project, I’m going to write a reflective follow-up on what happened (please pardon me that we are already one week into February):

January Stats:
18 school lunches eaten included:
 (4 – pizza lunches)
 (2 – hot dog lunches)
 (2 – chicken patties)
 (2 – cheese sandwiches)
 (2 – pasta dishes)
 (1 – PB&J that I will never forget…)
 (…other meals you will have to check out for yourself…)

What I learned about school lunch:
1) More people than I ever expected are interested in improving school lunch and reading about my misadventures.
2) School lunches normally consist of a main dish with some some meat product (often combined with a grain), a fruit product, a vegetable product, milk, and an additional grain if the meal needs it to comply with federal regulations.
3) The meals contain a lot of processed food items.
4) The food is bland and usually tasteless.
5) There is a lot of salt in the meals and they are low in fiber for the most part

What I learned about myself:
1) I finally figured out that I’m lactose-intolerant (I wasn’t drinking a lot of milk before so I never knew)
2) I’m proud of myself
3) I’m enjoying the project more than I expected

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17 thoughts on “January Recap

  1. I am interested in following your blog, but I am sorry that you have to go as far as eating the kinds of foods that I have seen on your blog. As a Nutritionist, I know exactly what you are doing to your body, right now and it is sad that the children have to put up with this kind of food. Unless their parents feed them real food when they are at home, they will have no idea what the real taste and satisfaction to your body actually tastes like.
    I started a blog in January, but I decided to go vegan for a year and share my experiences in this, as well as recipes etc.
    I feel actually very bad for you and very excited about what I am doing.

    I would suggest that you have your blood levels tested at the doctor's so that you can record also what your "new" kind of diet is doing to you physically. And I certainly hope that you eat very healtful foods when you are away from school. Wishing you well. For those who are interested to follow my blog, here is my address

  2. I find your blog fascinating, although I'm lucky enough to live in a school district where other parents took action on school lunches. Now everything is organic when possible, locally sourced when possible, and all grains are whole grains. All snacks are supposed to be healthy (although I tend to deem them just a better quality of junk food), and there are no vending machines with soda etc on school grounds.

  3. During my elementary years (I'm 19 BTW) I pretty much loved the school lunch. Once I started middle school, I ate it less and less. In high school, I can count on one hand how many times I ate a school lunch.
    It wasn't that it was bland or anything like that, I just didn't care for all the fatty foods and the chips the school would sell to us.

    I would love for more schools to start a farm to school program or have a school garden. There should be more meatless options for vegetarians and vegans. I know some schools provide those options but there has to be a large vegetarian or vegan student population to make it possible.

    There was a show on TLC some time ago about a chef who went to a school to makeover the menu. He wanted to make it healthier. Some of the kids hated it, some of them loved it. I think we should poll students and see what kind of changes they would like.

    BTW, since we're feeding all this junk to kids, we need to make phsyical activity a requirement in EVERY grade. At least 30-45 minutes a day.

  4. As an earlier poster mentioned, it might be a good idea to go to the Dr and get some basic blood tests done. It would have been good to get a baseline, but now is certainly a good time and would give you some very good information.
    I hope you are able to take the time to go.

  5. Thanks for taking on this project. It has been a real eye opener. My own daughter will be starting kindergarten in the fall, and though I'll be packing her lunch I'll certainly be a lot more conscious of what's going on in school cafeterias. Given the increased profile of nutrition in schools, I can only hope that some significant changes will be made in the coming years. I'd love to get involved in a school garden project. We'll see. Keep up the good work!

  6. You ought to be proud of yourself! Do you even realize you're heading a revolution of sorts? Very cool, i think!

    p.s. Anything to do with food makes me smile 😉

  7. I happen to stumble upon your blog (linked from The Impulsive Buy) and it's very interesting! I applaud your efforts.

    I haven't read any of the comments people have posted, so this may have been said already, but regarding the blandness of food, I think most kids prefer their food that way. A bland meal for an adult is probably more acceptable tasting to an elementary school student.

    This is not to say that school lunches don't need a lot of improvement, and your school appears to be no exception. Good luck! And thanks for reading my two cents on the situation.

  8. Wow! Just found your blog (thru twitter) and think it's a fantastic concept. I would never be so brave to take this on, but what an eye opener! I posted a link to your blog on my FB fan page. Can't wait to read more.


  9. Hi, amazing blog, I echo what kitty said about what you are doing to your body. Are you monitoring your health and tracking that? Does blogspot have a way for you to set up an rss feed I would love that, and it would make it easier to track your blogs, since it will be a "must-read" from now on. Hang in there, and thanks for your effort.

  10. Hey there! I just found your blog via an article from the SF Chronicle about a new national campaign to improve school lunches.

    I also work with kids professionally, and I'm all for improving child nutrition, activity and increasing student awareness about where their food comes from.

    However, it drives me crazy how these efforts all seem to be couched in "OMG OBESITY CRISIS" kind of language. Singling out the chubby kids doesn't do anyone any favors.

    First of all, all children need good nutrition and physical activity. Yes, it is possible to have a "normal" BMI and still be out of shape. "Anti-obesity" intiatives don't help unhealthy, sedentary, poorly-nourished kids who don't happen to be overweight.

    Second, some kids will be chubby no matter what. I was raised middle-class with a health conscious mother – no chips or soda in my lunch, ever. I got a sandwich, carrot sticks, fruit, 100% juice, etc. I took swimming and dance lessons. And yet I was a chubster. Still am, in fact, despite carrying healthy eating patterns into adulthood and going to the gym 3-4 times a week.

    Do you think we can continue pushing for school lunch reform without jumping on the obesity hysteria bandwagon? Can we actually say, "Hey, all kids need good food and physical activity! We shouldn't point the finger at the chubby kids and ignore the others" amidst all these BMI-focused programs?

  11. a kid at Dundee Crown High School in Carpentersville gave the administration a presentation about the quality (or lack thereof) of the lunchroom food, and did some investigating reporting on Aramark, the provider of the lunches.. the contract with Aramark ($6,000,000) is now on the table. they are listening to the student and are going to be making changes to the food, backing off of e.g., high fructose syrup, etc..

  12. This has been a concern for years with my children. High School is when it really started to "sink in" that what we are paying for was nothing better than junk food. In addition, when you give teens money everyday for lunch…and they don't like the lunch…they won't eat it and just like that you have given out $15-$20. Have the kids ever given the money back? NO!

  13. I always find it interesting (and sometimes a little scary) to see how people find their way to things I've posted. By way of information – I landed here sometime in mid-January following a link from CheapHealthyGood (http://cheaphealthygood.blogspot.com/).

    Kudos on what will be a very interesting journey! I think living this experience, rather than just researching the quality of lunches, will be powerful proof as the year ends and you start summarizing the year and the effects of this plan.

    Mostly I just wanted to send encouragement your way and to say a big thank you for your mentions that for many children, school lunch is their best or only meal of the day. Having been working with Single Mothers for a few years, my heart goes out to them anytime when schools are unexpectedly closed because of weather or other issues. For some families, even an unplanned snow day or two can leave single mothers in tears as to how to feed their children without free/reduced breakfast and lunches through the schools. It's a great blessing that we have these programs – but we still need to ensure quality and nutrition in what's provided.

  14. I think this is a great undertaking. It reminds me of the movie "Supersize Me." Be careful out there!

    I think children should be served healthy and organic food for school lunch. Trans fats and High Fructose Corn Syrup should not be allowed in an elementary school building, let alone their meals on a regular basis.

    Thank you for taking the time to shed light on something that is causing our children to be more obese. School lunch must change!

  15. Have you had the mystery lunch yet?

    I am from western WA and recently graduated college, but even through high school-the cafeteria served a meal that looked like a cross between a stew, gravy, and puke.

    We referred to it as mystery surprise and I promise you none of us ate it. We would get it on our plate and we would stir it around more than eat it.

    I have a comment about your school—they give a lot of options (unhealthy as they are). Maybe my school was just really small with only 650 for K-12, but everybody ate the same meal on a given day and you had very limited choices. I think that may be part of the problem with your school's meal plan for the kids.

    Sometimes to model how you should eat, you have to limit the amount of choice. Guarantee you that every student ate a piece of fruit and the salad that came with their meal on mystery day. 😛

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